Local Reuse of Furniture Enabled by User-to-User Online Platforms

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Virginia Tech

Discarded furniture constitutes a significant share of bulky waste directed to landfills and incinerators each year in the USA. This has implications for resource consumption, social equity, and other sustainability concerns. Reuse of furniture provides a strategy for waste prevention and enables product life extension and offset of new consumption as part of a circular economy (CE). Using online platforms (e.g., Facebook, Craigslist), users can connect directly to acquire and/or discard used furniture items that would otherwise be disposed. Much of the existing literature focuses on an individual's motivations for disposing/acquiring used products, and not on the mechanics and/or practice of reuse. This study explores reuse practices, perspectives, and individual engagement in the local reuse of furniture through user-to-user (U2U) online platforms using two data sources and methodologies. To understand the characteristics of used furniture available for local reuse via U2U online platforms, web-scraping was conducted on Craigslist posts over a four-month period to collect data regarding furniture type, condition, and location. In parallel, individuals were invited to complete a questionnaire regarding their use of U2U online platforms for acquiring/disposing of used furniture, perceived convenience of using online platforms, and the extent to which reuse transactions were 'local'. This study found that the product type, perceived convenience, and access to information played key roles in the local reuse of furniture. This study has important implications for sustainable consumption systems in a local circular economy.

product reuse, circular economy, consumer behavior